Mississippi State Football Prepares for Chad Morris’s Offense as last-place Arkansas Takes on the Bulldogs on Senior Day
The Mississippi State Football Bulldogs enter senior day as heavy favorites against the struggling Arkansas Razorbacks, who own a record of 2-8 with wins over just Tulsa and Eastern Illinois University. Arkansas is experiencing the growing pains of a new coach and new offensive system without the type of players suited to run it. They haven’t looked abysmal in all of their games; close losses against LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and a 30-point showing against Alabama show that the Razorbacks still have a lot of fight left in them. This isn’t a game that the Bulldogs can afford to overlook. Arkansas gave MSU a scare last season, and looking ahead to a short week and Egg Bowl matchup could result in an upset on the Mississippi State senior’s last home game. But with the way the defense has been playing in Starkville this season, don’t expect a surprise victory for the Hawgs this Saturday.
Junior Ty Storey has taken over the quarterback duties in Fayetteville from Cole Kelley, and he’s accrued 1423 yards and 11 touchdowns to go with 8 interceptions in 2018. Storey is completing 57% of his passes with 11.6 yards per completion. His adjusted QBR is an even 40.0, but he’s the best Arkansas has got this season. He can throw it around a little bit, but he’s not going to shred anybody for 4 quarters. Storey is a but mobile, with 194 rushing yards on the season, but he’s not a true dual-threat like Tua Tagovailoa or Terry Wilson. His adjusted QBR is an even 40.0, but he’s the best Arkansas has got this season. His best statistical game was 240 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions aganst Vanderbilt at home. Perhaps his best accomplishment this season is managing 200 yards and completing 50% of his passes at home vs LSU, but it took him 38 attempts to do so. It is going to take a magnificent effort from Storey if he is going to be the linchpin of an Arkansas upset.
The more likely catalyst of a prospective Arkansas victory will be halfback Rakeem Boyd. Boyd is a sophomore that should turn out to be a nice player for coach Morris in the future. He was limited vs LSU last week, but he was one shy of 100 yards once and hit the mark in each of his last 4 games before that. He’s averaging 6.2 yards per carry, but hasn’t been rewarded with a lot of scores from this offense, as he’s only found the end zone twice. Devwah Walley is next in the running back pecking order with 298 yards on 65 carries. Chase Maden is a nice option for Arkansas as well. Haden didn’t play against LSU, but he’s amassed 252 yards on 55 carries this season. All of the backs are around 6’0”, 200 lbs, they really make the offense go for the Hawgs.
LaMichael Pettway leads the way for the Razorbacks in the receiving game with 387 yards on 23 catches. Cheyenne O’Grady compliments Pettway with 359 yards and 27 catches. A few other guys are approaching 200 yards on the season, namely Michael Woods and Jordan Jones. Running backs aren’t going to catch a ton of passes in Chad Morris’s offense like Kylin Hill does for MSU, but Arkansas has at least two weapons on the outside to do damage with.
Arkansas has only given up 21 sacks through ten games, but the stout MSU front should still be able to get pressure on Storey, affecting his already shaky passing ability and putting Arkansas in 3rdand long situations. Storey doesn’t complete at an extremely high percentage, but this offense has created a few big plays. 6 receivers have touchdown catches of 30 yards or more, and 3 running backs own touchdown runs of 38 yards or more. Arkansas is a team that doesn’t move the ball consistently, but loves it a long way when they do get something going. This has helped them put points on the board against teams like Vanderbilt, LSU, and Ole miss. The average 4.4 yards per carry, which is a decent rate. But ultimately, the defense of Mississippi State is playing at too high a level for Arkansas to get anything going offensively. If an early kickoff doesn’t have the Bulldogs in a mental fog, the excitement of military appreciation Saturday and senior day should have a pumped up Bulldog team winning the game by a large margin.